afdal Literally, the best, the optimum.
AFRISTECH The African Foundation for Science and Technology.
afterlife The state of being after death. Muslims believe that whether it is spent in paradise or hell, and which of their subdivisions, depends on how holy the person has been during their worldly lifetime. Similar concepts are seen in the other Abrahamic religions, and the belief in the afterlife and its possible outcomes causes the faithful to do good in their lives in the belief that it will help them towards a desirable afterlife. For Muslims, this means obeying the Five Pillars of Islam – shahada (professing God’s greatness and oneness); salah (daily prayer, five times a day); sawm (ritual fasting); zakat (a form of charitable tax, paid in accordance with the size of one’s wealth); and Hajj (the pilgrimage to Mecca) – and believing in the Six Articles of Faith (acceptance of Allah as the One God; a belief in angels; a belief in prophets; a faith in the scriptures; a belief in the Day of Judgment and the afterlife; and a belief in predestination. A favourable outcome in the afterlife is given as one of the factors in many voluntary actions.
Aga Khan Hereditary title given to the leader of the Nizari Isma’ili sect of Shi’a Muslims, who believe that their Imams are the ‘True Caliphs’ or rightful successors of the Prophet Muhammad.
agnosticism The position held by people who neither reject outright the existence of a God or gods nor embrace any religion. People who have rejected their religions through scientific or evidential weight but who consider it unscientific to therefore follow with the conclusion there must be no deity would usually call themselves agnostics. The theory of agnosticism can be summed up by the philosophical position that it is impossible to prove a negative, the negative in this case being the non-existence of a deity. The word literally means not knowing.
ah After Hijrah or Anno Hegirae the Islamic year numbering suffix (similar in function to ad or ce but starting 621 years later in 622 ce). The dating system starts at the year the Prophet Muhammad and his followers emigrated to the city of Medina (622 ce), which is 1 ah, the first year of the Islamic calendar. The ah suffix is used in the same way as ce, bc or ad, for example, 453 ah. Although the Hijri calendar is used exclusively by some Muslims, it is used in tandem with the Gregorian calendar by others (especially when dealing with Western individuals, businesses or governments), or indeed not at all when fully integrated into a society that is not historically Muslim. Care must be taken to determine whether a date uses the lunar calendar (28 days a month, 354 or 355 days a year) or the solar calendar (365 days a year plus one day every four years), especially in historical studies. Muslims use the lunar calendar to determine when festivals start and end, which is why the festival of Ramadan can occur at any time of the year.